LEWISBURG, TN. – Since the 1970s, heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, has been the leading cause of death for both American men and women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 630,000 Americans die from heart disease each year, accounting for one out of every four deaths in the United States.
Heart disease refers to different types of heart conditions related to a process known as altherosclerosis, a condition that develops when cholesterol deposits (plaque) collect in arteries that supply blood to the heart. This causes arteries to narrow, making it harder for blood to flow to the heart. When blood flow to a part of the heart is blocked, it can result in a heart attack or stroke.
There are things that we can do to decrease our risk for heart disease and stroke. Maintaining a healthy weight by eating healthy meals, including foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fiber, can help prevent high blood cholesterol. Limiting salt in your diet can lower blood pressure. Physical activity also helps in maintaining good heart health. The Surgeon General recommends that adults engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.
If you do have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, talk with your doctor about how you can work together to treat these conditions that can lead to heart disease. Monitor your blood pressure regularly and have your cholesterol tested as often as your doctor recommends. If your doctor determines medication is needed to treat any of these conditions, be sure to follow instructions carefully and faithfully. By practicing a heart healthy lifestyle, you can greatly reduce your risk of having a heart attack.
February has been designated as American Heart Month and Marshall Medical Center encourages everyone to take this opportunity to learn more about healthy heart practices and what to do if you or a loved one shows any of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Commonly they include:
- Chest discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back, which can feel like an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain
- Discomfort in other parts of the upper body, one or both arms, neck, jaw, upper back or stomach
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
- Unusual fatigue
- Breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness